damnum absque injuria



In law, ''damnum absque injuria'' (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of ...
for "loss or damage without injury") is the principle of
tort A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act. Tort law can be contrasted with criminal law, which deals with criminal wrongs that are punishable ...
law in which some person ( natural or
legal Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been vari ...
) causes damage or loss to another, but does not injure them. Examples: * Opening a burger stand near someone else's may cause them to lose customers, but this in itself does not give rise to a
cause of action A cause of action or right of action, in law, is a set of facts sufficient to justify suing to obtain money or property, or to justify the enforcement of a legal right against another party. The term also refers to the legal theory upon which a ...
for the original burger stand owner. *
Harassment Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behavior that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral r ...
of a person by physical contact may not cause injury, but may very well interfere with that person's purpose, which is a form of damage. Vehement physical contact with explicit verbal denial of permission constitutes a tort. A penal sum for damages can be applied nominally, preventing further damages to person.

Categories of ''damnum absque injuria''

Edward Weeks identified three categories of ''damnum absque injuria'': the absence of legal protection for some interests, the general limits to legal protection of interests, and the varying extent of legal protections of interests.

Absence of legal protection for some interests

Weeks and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. identified several interests that lacked legal protection altogether. At the time of Weeks' treatise, there was no legal protection for emotional distress unconnected to a physical injury. Holmes also cited the example of an
easement An easement is a nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another, B". An easement is a property ...
for light and air—if a neighbor built up a tall structure that overshadowed your house, you would have no legal remedy.

General limits to legal protection of interests

Weeks and Holmes also identified that there could be damage without legal remedy based on some doctrines that limited liability. Contributory negligence, for example, could deprive a plaintiff of a legal remedy against a negligent defendant.Singer, J. ''The Legal Rights Debate in Analytical Jurisprudence from Bentham to Hohfeld.'' 1982 Wisc. L. Rev. 975

Varying extent of legal protections of interests

Weeks and Holmes also recognized that there could be damage without legal remedy if the damage occurred outside the scope of protection for legally recognized interests.
Riparian A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river or stream. Riparian is also the proper nomenclature for one of the terrestrial biomes of the Earth. Plant habitats and communities along the river margins and banks a ...
owners, for example, could suffer damage from their neighbors upstream use of the water, but as long as the use was considered reasonable there would be no legal remedy.

Reference case

In ''John Rylands and Jehu Horrocks v Thomas Fletcher'' (1868) House of Lords L.R. 3 H.L. 330, the judgment of Lord Cairns and Lord Cranworth stated:https://www.informea.org/sites/default/files/court-decisions/Rylands%20vs%20Fletcher.pdf In the 1938 decision in ''Alabama Power Co. v. Ickes'' (302 U.S. 464), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled:


{{Italic title Legal rules with Latin names